“I have been thinking of the pieces as participants in the same activity. They are all similar, like patients in a lobby waiting for the therapist…they all need to talk but say different things.” –Justin Adian. Featuring a series of new paintings and coinciding with Frieze London, Strangers is the first U.K. exhibition by American artist Justin Adian.The title Strangers is a mediation on the transformation that occurs once the pieces have left Adian’s studio to venture out into the world, revealing the artist’s deeply personal relationship to the works.
Adian used a distinctive method of stretching canvas over ester foam to create shaped abstract works which protrude from the supporting wall; he often combines two or more abstract forms in one work which, together, form a three-dimensional composite wall relief. The canvases themselves are painted using industrial materials such as oil-based enamel and spray paint, which highlight the surface contours and soft edges. Sometimes adding pieces such as plates and nails, these additions make the process of construction evident in the finished paintings.
Adian is influenced by “artists who had to answer to calls for the death of painting and those dealing with whether we should still be dealing with painting” and his own approach is marked by aplayfulness, most evident in the interplay between the paintings and his choice of titles. He resists abstraction by giving each work a title derived from a narrative, Texarkana for example, is a work installed in the right angle between two walls. As Adian explains, is a portmanteau made up of Texas and Arkansas, the two words joining to describe a third element which links the two.
The exhibition beams with various colours, the bright hues of various paintings reflecting onto the gallery walls. In this way the paintings are site-sensitive, extending beyond their confines into the surrounding space. This characteristic is made most clear by a Neopolitan, a large-scale triptych which stands as the centerpiece of the exhibition, its pastel colours continuing Aiden’s playful streak and reminding of childhood, home and studio.
The artist will be creating a limited edition, hand-finished artist’s book to coincide with the exhibition.
Justin Adian: Strangers Skarstedt, 23 Old Bond Street, London W1S 4PZ, UK www.skarstedt.com
1. Justin Adian Texarkana, (2014) oil enamel on canvas and ester foam 92 x 15 x 2 1/2 in. (233.7 x 38.1 x 6.3 cm.)
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